We do Not Know how to Talk About Online Privacy Violations

Abstract image of data that has been locked down

The debate over user privacy online is getting ever more intense. Barely a week goes by without some new horror being revealed. On Buzzfeed News, Charlie Warzel laid out just how dire the privacy situation has got and how bad the general public is at understanding the problem. Whether its celeb-twinning apps or Facebook, users simply do not know enough about how their data is being used nor how to discuss the issue.

Opaque algorithms and operations allow executives to dismiss the concerns of journalists and activists as unfounded or ignorant. They argue that critics are casting normal, industry-standard practices and terms of service agreements as malicious. What does it say about us or the culture built atop the modern internet that Byzantine terms of service agreements that few understand or even bother reading govern so much of our lives online?

Check It Out: We do Not Know how to Talk About Online Privacy Violations

One thought on “We do Not Know how to Talk About Online Privacy Violations

  • Charlotte:

    A thoughtful article. So as not to repeat the comments I just made on Andrew’s link to another article on privacy https://www.macobserver.com/link/your-privacy-cant-others/ let me simply share my observation that many, if not most, people I talk to about this matter (none tech geeks or news junkies – normal, otherwise well adjusted people with other things to do) appear not to even realise that there are different types of tech companies, and that some are specifically involved in what has been referred to as ‘surveillance capitalism’; making money from user data.

    If people do not even realise that their data are the prize, gold being mined by a company, they likely have not even stopped to consider that they are handing over their data to that company, let alone the terms of surrendering their data. If one does not even realise that they are handing over their data, as is the case for many using the ‘Twinning’ app, the issue of privacy is never even entertained by the user, never mind its violation.

    The closet non-tech analogy one can find, perhaps, is the historical practice of real estate developers deceiving people into signing over the deeds to their property with a seemingly innocuous if not outwardly helpful or protective document (eg property insurance)..

    We are far, far from having a meaningful way of talking about data as a commodity, let alone the terms of privacy violation. As more articles like this find their way into the mainstream, we may hopefully be getting there.

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